Exchange-traded funds tracking financial stocks were, once again, among the worst performers of the week amid heightened recessionary chatter and more hints that the sector's worries are far from over.
The Ultra Financials ProShares (UYG - Get Report) ETF slid 8.6% for the week, the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Financial Services (IYG) fund lost 5.1%, and the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) surrendered 4.7%.
The financial space -- which has been the crux of the market's travails over the past few months -- swallowed more poison earlier this week. The sector endured a confluence of dreary comments from former Federal Reserve chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker and the International Monetary Fund as well as downbeat minutes from the Fed's last gathering in March. Further, Lehman Brothers (LEH) disclosed that, last quarter, it was forced to liquidate three deteriorating funds worth around $1 billion. The stock was off 9.5% for the week.
General Electric's (GE - Get Report) bleak results Friday didn't help financials, either, as the corporate bellwether's woes were largely blamed on its financial-services operations. GE shares lost 14.7% over the past five sessions. Earlier in the week shipping services firm UPS (UPS), in another bad sign for the state of the economy, sliced its first-quarter outlook, and shares lost 4.7% for the week.UPS also helped pull down the iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average (IYT), which has sunk 3.3% since Monday. Bundled securities tracking retailers did poorly, as well, despite a guidance boost from Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report), the world's biggest retailer. The behemoth also reported a lower-than-expected same-store sales drop for March, and a number of other retailers posted big comps declines in that month. Furthermore, the University of Michigan ended the week by posting miserable preliminary consumer-confidence numbers for April. The PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) ETF slid 4.8% for the week, and the SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) fell 6.1%. Among scarce winners were oil-and-energy ETFs. Earlier in the week, crude oil futures hit a new intraday high on the same day that crude stockpiles took a slide, and gas prices at the pump were breaking records, as well. Over the past five sessions, United States Oil (USO), the PowerShares DB Oil (DBO) and the PowerShares DB Energy (DBE) funds climbed 4.2% or more.